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A cleric in my group wants to add the effects of a +2 Belt of Incredible Dexterity to his Heavyload Belt(triples his carry load). Is that allowed, and if so, what would he need to do for it?

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RAW, you have to pay 50% extra for additional effects like this

Each effect after the first on a given item costs 50% more than it normally would. Carcer’s answer covers that well.

But Paizo is wrong

This rule is a change from D&D 3.5e—in D&D 3.5e, while there was a 50% surcharge on extra effects combined into one item, it was not specifically “the new” effects that got the surcharge, but explicitly the lower-cost effects—in other words, what Carcer calls “generosity,” simply wasn’t, in D&D 3.5e, it was the actual official rule. This makes sense, because otherwise the exact same item costs more based on the order that effects were added. That conflicts with the entire nature of managing wealth in both systems, because the GM should manage wealth and both items have the exact same real value.

More importantly, D&D 3.5e also had the following:

One of the most frustrating roadblocks to using interesting, unusual magic items is that they take up body slots that you need for an ability-boosting item (such as gauntlets of ogre power), a ring of protection, or another must-have item. To address this issue, Magic Item Compendium presents official rules for adding common item effects to existing items.

(Magic Item Compendium, pg. 233)

The “official rules” then presented there were that certain, “common” magic effects are ignored when deciding whether or not an item has multiple magic effects. For example, enhancement bonuses to Dexterity (or any other ability score) are on the list, so the belt with both the +2 enhancement to Dexterity and the heavyload property only counts as having one “uncommon” magic effect—heavyload—and so nothing gets a surcharge. You just pay 4,000 gp for the enhancement bonus plus 2,000 gp for heavyload, nothing extra. In addition to enhancement bonuses to ability scores, this also applied to resistance bonuses to saving throws (e.g. cloak of resistance), enhancement bonuses to natural armor (e.g. amulet of natural armor), deflection bonuses to AC (e.g. ring of protection), and energy resistance effects.

Pathfinder not only lacks this rule, but Paizo explicitly warns GMs not to implement it or anything like it (e.g. allowing enhancement bonuses to be found in other item slots). They are wrong. The insistence on this surcharge and that all physical ability score enhancements always be found only on belts (D&D 3.5e had them spread around gloves, belts, and amulets to begin with) is a major contributor to the fact that physical, mundane classes are even worse off in Pathfinder than they were in D&D 3.5e. And anyway, even in D&D 3.5e where these effects were spread around, Wizards of the Coast is absolutely correct when it refers to this issue as a “frustrating roadblock.” It adds nothing of value to the game to penalize characters for wanting to use interesting items despite the game insisting on boring-but-necessary ones.

Please, please, please do not continue Paizo’s mistakes. Use the Magic Item Compendium rule, it will make your game much, much better. I have a lot of experience with both varieties, and there is nothing to be gained by the miserly official rule, and much to be lost. I have even played in plenty of games that ignored body slots and the combining items surcharge entirely, and really, that’s better still. This whole complicated system didn’t add much of anything to the game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Something I'm trying on my newest game table is removing entirely the +X Dex and similar effects from items. Instead, I'm giving the players (and monsters!) an extra ability point on every even level (2,4,6..). This made the choosing of items way more interesting and the overall variety of effects on the table way more fun so far. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Mar 21, 2020 at 18:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar I have played many games that have tried things like that! I have never been completely satisfied with them, but that could easily be the specific schemes I’ve played under. Certainly, none of them were as bad as the official Pathfinder rules. I haven’t tried to implement one myself. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 21, 2020 at 18:24
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Yes, this is allowed, but combining items is usually more expensive than making a separate item

Pathfinder's magic item creation rules allow for enhancing an existing magical item with new abilities:

Sometimes, lack of funds or time make it impossible for a magic item crafter to create the desired item from scratch. Fortunately, it is possible to enhance or build upon an existing magic item. Only time, gold, and the various prerequisites required of the new ability to be added to the magic item restrict the type of additional powers one can place.

The cost to add additional abilities to an item is the same as if the item was not magical, less the value of the original item. Thus, a +1 longsword can be made into a +2 vorpal longsword, with the cost to create it being equal to that of a +2 vorpal sword minus the cost of a +1 longsword.

If the item is one that occupies a specific place on a character’s body, the cost of adding any additional ability to that item increases by 50%. For example, if a character adds the power to confer invisibility to her ring of protection +2, the cost of adding this ability is the same as for creating a ring of invisibility multiplied by 1.5.

Adding more magic to an existing item can be quite simple or very math-intensive. If the item’s current and proposed abilities follow the normal pricing rules (particularly with weapons, armor, and shields), adding the new abilities is a matter of subtracting the old price from the new price and determining how many days of crafting it takes to make up the difference.

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For most other items, GMs should use the multiple different abilities rule to determine the item’s new price: increase the cost of the new ability by 50%, add that to the total price of the item to get the new price. Then subtract the old price from the new price to determine the difference, and determine how many days of crafting it takes to cover the difference.

In this case, we're combining different abilities rather than just improving an existing ability, so following these guidelines, the base price of adding the properties of a +2 belt of incredible dexterity to a heavyload belt is 6,000gp (4,000gp × 1.5), and the resulting item would be worth a total of 8,000gp. As the price difference is 6,000gp, the crafter who performs the upgrade will need 3,000gp of materials and 6 days of work, just as if they were creating a separate item with a 6,000gp base price (and, of course, they need to meet all the prerequisites for crafting a belt of incredible dexterity as usual). If you need to hire an NPC to do the job, they should probably charge whatever they normally would for making a 6,000gp item from scratch.

However, you may note that if they were doing this the other way around - adding the properties of a heavyload belt to an existing belt of incredible dexterity - these guidelines would suggest a somewhat cheaper final item price: 4,000gp + 1.5 × 2,000gp = 7,000gp. A generous DM might allow the use of the cheaper order to determine the final price, and then the price difference is only 5,000gp (7,000gp - 2,000gp).

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